Every dog owner knows that few dogs can resist the sweet temptation of gnawing on a raw bone. Chewing on bone is fantastic for a dog’s dental hygiene and can keep them occupied for hours on end. But what about marrow bones? If you’ve ever encountered a large marrow bone, you know they aren’t for the faint of heart. These large bones can be intimidating, but don’t let that scare you off. Your dog will love you for it!
What are marrow bones?
There are a range of different types of marrow bones for dogs available on the market depending on how the butcher has processed the bone. Marrow bones are bones that still contain the soft cavity running through the center of the bone – the marrow.
Owners choose to feed marrow bones to their dogs for a few reasons.
- As part of a balanced diet – Marrow bones can be incorporated into their diet to add supplemental vitamins and minerals.
- As a boredom-buster – Marrow bones act as a long-lasting chew that keeps dogs occupied for lengths of time. They are a great option for owners seeking to provide enrichment for their dogs who like to chew while avoiding highly processed things like rawhide.
- For dental hygiene – As with any fresh and raw bones, the process of chewing bones can help clean a dog’s teeth and maintain good dental hygiene. The surface of a marrow bone is hard while the marrow on the inside is soft. The hard bone shell helps to scrape away any plaque build-up which is useful for dogs who don’t particularly enjoy having their teeth brushed that much.
- For enjoyment – The last and most important reason why owners feed their dogs marrow bones is the simple reason that they enjoy them so much. Most marrow bones on the market are beef or deer bones but can be from a range of different protein sources.
Do marrow bones provide any dietary benefits?
Marrow bones contain lots of different vitamins and minerals including iron and Vitamin B12. Bone marrow also contains fats, some protein, and is a good source of calcium.
While it’s not advised to feed dogs marrow bones every day because of their high-fat content, they’re a great addition to a complete diet to boost vitamin and calcium intake. Dogs do not derive any nutrition from the bone itself but the marrow in the bone which contains most of the nutrients while there’s also often some meat, cartilage, and connective tissue attached to fresh or frozen marrow bones. Miller’s Anatomy of the Dog tells us that bone is largely composed of calcium phosphate. When dogs chew bones it’s like humans getting extra fiber in their diet.
Recreational bones, like marrow bones, which allow dogs to chew on, helps maintain good digestion and keep their gastrointestinal tract healthy. The marrow in the bone is what contains the protein and other vitamins that dogs consume while chewing on marrow bones. Protein and Vitamin B12 contained in marrow bones are vital in the growth of younger dogs. The calcium present supports the heart, eyes, and joint health. The high-fat content in bone marrow, while something to take into consideration can also often used to give dogs extra energy before a long hike or a particularly busy day.
Do marrow bones have any other benefits?
One of the biggest benefits of marrow bones is their ability to keep our dogs occupied for a length of time while also benefiting their dental health.
Many dogs just like to chew, it’s in their nature and as a result, it’s up to us to find them a healthy outlet. Instead of furniture bearing the brunt of this impulse, marrow bones are a great way to allow for breeds of dogs that typically love to chew, like your bullies or terriers, to carry out natural behavior in a non-destructive way. Even dogs that don’t need the distraction from chewing household items can benefit from marrow bones. Chewing is a form of physical and mental enrichment so after chewing on a bone for thirty minutes it’s very likely that they will need a nap which is ideal for owners who need time to get some things done around the home while keeping their dog busy.
How do I feed my dog marrow bones?
They say all good things come in moderation and marrow bones are no different. Marrow bones should be introduced gradually and raw, sourced from a trusted brand or fresh from a local butcher.
The fat available in marrow bones is quite high meaning on days where you choose to give your dog a bone, their diet should contain lean, low-fat meat that day. All bones should be fed raw, cooked bones will dry through the cooking process and therefore become more likely to splinter off while chewing and a danger for your dog. They should also only be fed either fresh or frozen to make sure any traces of meat left on the bone haven’t started to grow bacteria and go bad.
Are there any risks in feeding dogs marrow bones?
A few of the more common issues people cite about feeding bones to dogs include injury to teeth or their digestive tract which can be avoided and reduced if fed properly.
Sometimes dogs can break off small fragments of bone but if given fresh and raw, bone rarely splinters. After a period of chewing, bones should be discarded to make sure dogs don’t go back and chew on them after long periods of being left out. Over time, bones dehydrate and become dry which makes them more likely to crack and splinter. It’s also important to feed bones that are the right size for your dog. Broken teeth usually occur when the bones are much too large for the dog that’s chewing them. A good rule of thumb is to provide bones that are a similar size to your dog’s head which makes them too big to swallow but not so big, they’ll damage their teeth on them.
Marrow bones can cause stomach upsets if fed too regularly because of the high-fat content that some dogs are not used to. This can be avoided by introducing gradually to allow their gut to adjust to the additional nutrients.
Overall, marrow bones are a good dietary supplement to introduce additional vitamins and minerals into a dog’s diet. Chewing is a perfectly natural behavior for a dog to exhibit and they provide a safe, healthy outlet for them to perform this. Bones offer great mental and physical stimulation and can help dogs learn how to settle and keep themselves occupied while their owners are too busy to give them attention. While being introduced, marrow bones should not be left with dogs unsupervised and always fed raw and introduced gradually.